Planning out a set of work across multiple teams during Release Planning or Program Increment (PI) Planning can raise many questions which don’t always have straight forward answers:

  • How much work can the group take on?
  • Should we include a buffer?
  • How should the work be divided among the teams?
  • How do we get everyone on the same page?
  • Will we be able to recognize the necessary adjustments when reality begins?

Terminology Evolves, The Practice Holds Firm

Release Planning is an age-old agile practice of defining the work for an upcoming release. Over time as organizations have become more agile, many have accelerated their release velocity. Some organizations release after each sprint, others release daily, and still others release after each commit. This new-found power has called the term Release Planning into question as potentially confusing because the act of planning for the mid- to longer-term is no longer necessarily correlated to a single release.

The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) took a step in that same direction by defining the overall activity in different terms, calling it PI Planning. In PI Planning, we find a practice of planning out all work for a defined period (the program increment) across all teams in the program within a structured two-day session.

Release Planning Across Teams

Regardless of the specific term used, there are a couple of general desires in planning. One is to load the specific time frame with the greatest amount of value that can be delivered. The second is to allocate the work across the available teams in a way that allows the group as a whole to undertake the plans in a confident, coordinated manner.

Release Planning

Team Allocations during Release Planning

In VersionOne’s Spring 2016 Release, the Release Scheduling view (which, by the way, you can call whatever you want thanks to the newly expanded terminology options) has been extended to allow full team-level planning capabilities. While you’ve been able to plan out releases and see both release and team capacities for a long time, now you can plan work directly into the teams working on each release. Seeing each team’s capacity bucket filling up as more work is added to their plate presents a great visual that helps everyone involved understand just how much room is left and where that room exists.

Planning out a release or PI isn’t just about fitting the high level capacity, it’s all about the teams, too.

Click here for more information about VersionOne’s Spring 2016 Release.

Scaled Agile Framework and SAFe are registered trademarks of Scaled Agile, Inc.

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